Published: Sept. 3, 2018


Why did you choose engineering at CU Boulder?

Engineering is a mechanism by which we improve quality of life for people around the world. It is the means by which we can keep families together through life-saving medical technology, increase global education rates by meeting basic human needs of water retention and generate great experiences that can be shared with others. I chose CU because it is the founding university of Engineers Without Borders, which encompasses my idea of engineering perfectly. I wanted to be part of a university that understands that engineering is first about people and positively impacting their lives.

What does the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag mean to you?

Picture an actor. Do you see Dwayne Johnson, Emma Watson or, perhaps, Jackie Chan? The chances that you and your neighbor imagine the same person, or even the same stereotypical image, is slim because the world of film portrays a lot of diversity. Engineering is quickly increasing the diversity within it, and the image of engineering should change to follow suit. I imagine a world where I could ask you to picture an engineer and no one would be surprised when the person you pictured looks different than the person they pictured. The #iLookLikeAnEngineer campaign is one of the first steps to making that world a reality.

What are your career goals?

In order for engineers to have the most positive impact on the world they need to understand what the world needs from them. I want to stand as the bridge between the world of people in need and the world of technical engineering skill. My dream is to act as a CEO of an engineering firm in which I could help build a vision for a better world through the technology that propels us forward.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to make many ripples." -Mother Teresa Making the world a better place for everyone is a team sport. I hope to throw a big enough rock into the world that others are inspired to do so as well. Maybe with enough ripples we can make a lasting difference together.

What are your hobbies?

I love to dance, though I have a long way to go before I will be "good". In the last year, I have taken lessons in country swing, east coast swing, blues, Argentine tango and salsa. Learning a new dance is a ton of fun and a great way to get moving after a day of sitting doing calculations.

What do you enjoy most about engineering?

I am a proud resident of Andrews Hall and the Engineering Honors Program where I have had some of my best moments. Staying up until dawn, not because APPM (applied math) has you freaked out, but because you genuinely want to know the person across from you is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. I have found a place to be honest with the world and myself about who I am, what I want and what I wish for, which is something I did not know I desperately needed until I integrated into the Andrews community. The best part about engineering is the phenomenal group of engineers that can be found here.

What is your favorite engineering experience?

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) has been a great experience. I love bringing together my dedication to service and the skills I am developing in college. Furthermore, I am surrounded by people who value social responsibility and genuinely want to make the world a better place. Everyone wants to change the world, and although I cannot change the whole world, I can change the world of 3,000 people in Rwanda with my team.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Before I arrived at CU, I already knew what clubs I would be in, what they would be like, and how I was going to be an integral part of their community. However, the images I formed of the organizations on campus were vastly different than the ones that I actually found. Programs that I thought would passively exist have had more impact on me than any others, and programs I was excited for turned out to be completely different than what I was looking for. College is a time of lots of transition, and change is inevitable. Your plans will change, your dreams will change, your beliefs will change and mature. Remember that it's OK to let yourself get lost in the journey every now and then. Take the time to discover who you are before you set yourself on a path. It is worth the investment.

Zayna Pieper, The Classic Academic in Colorado Springs Graduate, E+ Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Management, Class of 2020